Is Hope an Action Word in Your Dictionary?

“Hope is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up.”
— David Orr

Take a brief moment to visualize what David Orr is saying… 

As many of us know, a verb is a word used to describe an action (just like a scrub is a guy who thinks he's fly ... yes you're welcome - and yes if you sing "a verb is a word" to the tune of "a scrub is a guy" you'll see how my brain connected those dots). The second half of the sentence, with it’s sleeves rolled up, brings to mind a strong traditional blue collar work ethic. How curious it is to describe hope in this way. And yet, that’s exactly what David Orr has done. He has taken a word which we often think of as a wish, desire, or aspiration (for a certain thing to be a certain way) and challenged that narrative directly by creating a home for it in the realm of action. 

We might say that he goes beyond challenging it. He, in fact, fundamentally redefines the word itself. He brings it down from the ethereal realm. A hope stored away in one’s theoretical, imaginative, proverbial thought bubble and turns it into a notion that can be manipulated in concrete tangible ways.

It can be easy to imagine and dream about what we desire our lives to be (notice I didn’t say it is easy). It can even be easy to see the steps we must take to get there. These are the preliminary phases which one often experiences before conscious and active change occurs. Yet, if we are lucky enough for these to come naturally to us, this is often where many of us stop. We get stuck, spinning on the hamster wheel of perseveration. 

The Conscious Commitment blog identifies 3 factors when committing to change:

  • Behavior modification
  • Continued conscious reflection
  • Embracing a working relationship with our own self-doubt

If we honestly Assess the subtleties of our Selves and our surroundings, we begin to see the myriad of ways which we are holding ourselves back. Yes, undesirable circumstances of all kinds present themselves as stumbling blocks on our journey. And yet this does not change the fundamental truth that: if we are to redesign our own lives, there is no one else to shoulder the responsibility of change. It can be a very harsh reality to face depending on your opinions, preferences, beliefs and level of acceptance on matters such as: the government, loved ones, your employer, etc. These people, places, and systems are as they are. Yes, it is honorable to work to change them. If we are to be successful in this endeavor we must work from within the system to make it possible. 

The same philosophy applies to the Self


If we are to alter our circumstances in life, whatever they may be, we must work from within our Selves to make that change and reclamation possible. If we hope for some-thing to happen, occur, or be a certain way, we must roll our sleeves up and take action. Everyone can but not everyone will. Will you?

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you hope for in life?
  • What do you dream about when you say things like, “I hope... I wish… If only my life…” 
  • On a scale of 1-10 (1 being minimal, 10 being radical) how willing are you to roll up your sleeves and do the work?
    • Don’t answer this question from a stance of passive hope; answer it from the perspective of active hope. Be realistic with yourself and your expectations. 
  • Honestly assess that which is preventing you from making those changes?
    • Think: persons, places, things. Make a list. Write them down. Then, follow it up with another list of ideas and concrete strategies to address those hangups.
  • If you answered the previous questions honestly, what steps will you take to define hope as an action word in your dictionary of life?
    • Perhaps these come in phases:
      • Tier 1: easiest to implement
      • Tier 2: things that will take minor alterations
      • Tier 3: longer term goals, internal renovation and restoration projects
Remember, there is always only one time for Self development... Right Now.